Imágenes de páginas

ed; and perhaps proceed to deny that very perfection, the operation of which they are forced to acknowledge in almost every other of the works of God.

It may, therefore, tend to throw light on this important subject, to consider the display which is made of the sovereignty of God in other works, besides that of salvation, and in a variety of circumstances, evidently recorded in Scripture in subserviency to this.

A particular illustration of this perfection is the more necessary, because, unless we have just ideas of it, we cannot think justly with respect to any other perfection of God. How eager have earthly princes been to render themselves absolute ! The richness of their revenues, the love of heir subjects, or the extent of their conquests, have often been viewed as no counterbalance to the want of unlimited authority. Ahab was miserable, because he met with resistance from the possessor of one poor vineyard : and Jezebel, his wife, seemed to think, that his royalty did not deserve the name, if he could not gratify himself in this instance. “ Doft thou now," she says, “ govern the kingdom “ of Israel a ?” Has nor many a prince cheerfully hazarded his crown for the mere possibility of enjoying absolute sway? This is the groffest arrogance in man, who is a worm. But sovereign authority is essential to the majesty of God. His will is not influenced by any cause without himself. But we are by no means to form our judgment N 3

of a 1 Kings xxi. ?

of divine sovereignty, by comparing it with the arbitrary will of a sinful creature. For God never exercises his sovereignty without a proper end. He is entirely fovereign in the display of his perfections, and in the manner and degree in which he displays them. But his sovereignty is constantly exercised according to the rule of his perfections. It is always in entire consistency with his holiness and justice, wisdom and goodness. While sovereignty is still regulated by these perfections, it lends them a peculiar lustre. It is the royal fplendour of all the other attributes of God. Suppose him to be possessed of all possible perfections, and yet to act necessarily in the display of these; it would greatly derogate from their glory. We could not, indeed, acknowledge-him as the Supreme Being By this, more than by any of his moral perfections, he is distinguished from every creature, even the most exalted. To“ do his pleasure,” is the highest honour to which any creature is advanced b. But the Almighty displays his self-existence and independence, by still doing what pleases himself. When, therefore, the Church testifies her assurance, “ that the Lord is great,

“and that our LORD is above all gods;" this is • the evidence that she immediately produces, He “ hath done whatsoever he pleased.”

1. The work of Creation, in various respects, unfolds this attribute. He, who is Being itself, was under no necessity of nature to communicate being to any other. He is equally independent


b Psal, ciii. 21.

c Psal. cxxxv. 3, 6.

of all creatures for his blessedness, as for his being. The possession of thousands of worlds cannot in the least enrich him. The praises of myriads of men or angels can make 'no addition to his felici. ty. Why, then, did he create the univerfe ? Just because he pleased. The sovereignty of his pleasure, as displayed in the work of creation, is inseparably connected with the work itself, as an equally cogent reason for the highest praise. “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and “ honour, and power : for thou hast created all

things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were “ created d.” He did not create, without an end worthy of himself. He proposed the manifestation of his infinite wisdom, power and goodness. On the supposition of his engaging in this work, he could have no other end in view. But still his creating, with this very design, was the result of a sovereign act of his will. For he did not stand in need of any external manifestation of his perfections; his blessedness consisting in the eternal contemplation of these, in his own infinite mind.

Is it inquired, why God did not begin to create, till within less than fix thousand years back from the present time, when it was in his power to have given a far earlier display of his perfections ? Or why, when he had existed from eternity alone, he in time gave being to creatures formed for fellowship with him ? It may indeed be said, that no finite nature can exist from eternity; and that, although the most remote period, which the mind

of d Rev. iv. 11.

N 4

of man can conceive, had been fixed on by God as the date of creation, it would not have approached nearer to eternity than did the actual era of creation. But still the principal folution is, that this was the divine pleasure.

Is it asked, Why did he extend or confine his work to fix days? Why hath he formed such a certain number of creatures, and neither more nor fewer? Why hath he given being to many, for which we can discern no use? to many, the existence of which has most probably pever been learned, that are hid in the abysses of the sea, and therefore cannot be the means of displaying his perfections ? To these questions, and to others innumerable which might be proposed, we must still give the same answer, “ The Lord hath done “ whatsoever he pleased, --in the seas, and in all

deep places."

Man and beast, as to the bodily part, acknowledge the same humble origin. “God said, Let “ the earth bring forth the living creature after “ his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of “ the earth after his kind. And the Lord God “ formed man of the dust of the ground.” That same dust of which God formed man, and which he animated with a rational and immortal fpirit, conformed to his own image, might, with equal propriety, had he so pleafed, gone to the formation of the vilest reptile that crawls on the earth ; and the dust of which that reptile is composed, might have constituted the corporeal part of man.


Gen. i, 24. ; ii. 7.

But in this respect the Almighty Potter hath manifested his “ power over the clay, of the same

lamp to make one vessel unto honour, and an“ other unto dishonour f.” And shall we dare to aslign liinits to his sovereignty? Shall we say to this glorious agent, “ Hitherto Thalt thou come, " and no further?” Shall we admit his sovereignty in the old creation, and refuse it in the new ? Shall we acknowledge his right to do with that, which was negatively innocent, as he pleased ; and deny him the same right as to that which had actually offended him ? When the whole lump of our nature is corrupted by fin, shall we presume to say to him; “ Thou mayest not do according to thy “ pleasure ; but must be determined by the will of the clay ?” Shall we not rather adopt the acknowledgment of the Church? “Now, O LORD, “ thou art our father: we are the clay, and thou “our Potter, and we all are the work of thy “ hand 6.” If we refuse this submission, we may be assured that he shall “ dash us in pieces as a “ potter's vefsel.” For “wo unto him that stri“ veth with his Maker: let the potsherd strive with “ the potsherds of the earth : shall the clay say to “ him that fashioneth it, What makest thou ? or " thy work, He hath no hands? Wo unto him that “ faith unto his father, What begettest thou ? or “ to the woman, What haft thou brought forth h ?” Would such questions, if addressed to our earthly parents, argue the most daring impiety? What terms shall we find for exprelling their wicked

ness, f Rom. ix. 27.

g Ifa. Ixiv. 5. ha Chap. xlv.



« AnteriorContinuar »